Adapted from the TED talk by Fallon Goodman
A big part of social anxiety is about the fear of being rejected. When we feel socially anxious, we become hyper-focused on how we are appearing to others. We scan the room looking for signs of threat and disapproval, signs we might have slipped up and are at risk for rejection. We try to seek comfort in signs of approval, smiles, head nods, laughs and so on. Having social anxiety can be exhausting, watching for the nuances and norms and dynamics of a social group so we can match our behaviour to fit and ultimately avoid being rejected. Maybe you were ghosted after a first date. Maybe you were rejected from your dream job. Maybe you were ousted from a friend group or not invited to friends or work social event. Rejection’s unpleasant. And social anxiety tries to protect us from it.
Social anxiety becomes problematic when it begins to interfere with the life you want to live. And this happens when your fear of rejection becomes intertwined with your view of yourself. When you believe you will be rejected because you think you have some inherent flaw, deficiency or failing of character. You were ghosted after that first date, and you believe it’s because you were not lovable or attractive enough. You are turned down from your dream job, and you believe it’s because you were not intelligent or competent enough. Your friends or colleagues don’t ask you to a social, or ousted you from that friend group – you believe it’s because you were not interesting or funny enough. Our fear of rejection is really a fear of being less than we want to be, less than we could be.
See Fallon Goodmans’s Ted Talk below: